S2, Ep3 How to Fail: James Frey


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This week on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, we're joined by the author James Frey who also just so happens to be my first American guest (hello, USA! I heart you!). Frey has written four critically acclaimed novels, and his fifth - Katerina, a sweeping love story set between 2018 Los Angeles and 1992 Paris - has just been published.

But he's probably as well known for his notoriety as his talent. In 2003, Frey published A Million Little Pieces, a memoir of his criminal past and addiction to crack cocaine. An instant bestseller, it was picked by Oprah Winfrey for her influential book club. But when it was subsequently shown that Frey had fabricated large portions, Oprah brought him back on her show to give him an exceptionally public dressing down that made headines around the world.

This is a man who has been a literary rock-star and a literary pariah; someone who has experienced public failure on a level most of us couldn't even begin to comprehend. He joins me to discuss what that felt like, what he learned from the fallout, what the difference is between factual truth and truth in fiction, living with addiction, what he has learned from failure, and he tells me about his peronsal motto: 'Fail Fast, Fail Often'. Along the way, he also reveals whether he'd vote for Oprah if she ran for President and his unlikely support for the England football team.

How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and sponsored by 4th Estate Books

Katerina by James Frey is out now published by John Murray

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

4th Estate Books @4thEstateBooks

106 episodes